HomeMovies Reviews‘Americana’ Review: Sydney Sweeney and Halsey in a Contemporary Western That Cleverly...

‘Americana’ Review: Sydney Sweeney and Halsey in a Contemporary Western That Cleverly Subverts Expectations

The theft of a invaluable Native American artifact triggers a cascading sequence of violent crimes in Americana, a revisionist Western set in present-day South Dakota. Writer-director Tony Tost brings his years of expertise on equally themed episodic sequence like Damnation and Longmire to his directing debut, an ensemble characteristic with a number of overlapping storylines. The plot premise for Americana considerations a Lakota nation “ghost shirt,” a garment original from animal pores and skin that was regarded as instilled with particular powers for adherents of the ghost dance, a late nineteenth century Native American non secular motion.

Although stylistically and thematically a Western, the borderline comedic tone of Tost’s script, together with frequent gratuitous violence, rapid-fire dialogue and a non-linear narrative construction, recommend Americana is extra of a hybrid crime drama within the Tarantino mould. The movie’s enchantment for style fans also needs to be enhanced by the looks of multi-platinum singer-songwriter Halsey in her first dramatic position, a hanging efficiency that sees her simply holding her personal with top-liners Sydney Sweeney and Paul Walter Hauser.


The Bottom Line

A brand new tackle the troubled legacy of the Old West.

Venue: SXSW Film Festival (Narrative Feature Competition)
Cast: Sydney Sweeney, Paul Walter Hauser, Halsey, Eric Dane, Zahn McClarnon, Gavin Maddox Bergman, Simon Rex, Derek Hinkey, Toby Huss, Harriet Sansom Harris
Director-screenwriter: Tony Tost

1 hour 50 minutes

Halsey performs Mandy Starr, who shares a nondescript double-wide together with her boyfriend Dillon (Eric Dane), a clumsy small-time hood, and younger son Cal (Gavin Maddox Bergman). With her life at an obvious lifeless finish, Mandy doesn’t even need to get off the bed most mornings, a lot much less take care of Cal, a free-range child with a passion for insisting that he’s the reincarnation of Sitting Bull. When unscrupulous antiquities supplier Roy Lee Dean (Simon Rex) hires Dillon to steal a invaluable Lakota ghost shirt from a personal collector in a bloody residence invasion, Mandy decides the perfect answer to her issues is to chop him out of the deal and resell the shirt herself. A deft hammer swing to the again of his head knocks Dillon chilly, so she will be able to steal the shirt and take off together with his muscle automobile, leaving Cal behind when he refuses to go alongside.

She’s not the one one planning to revenue off the Native American artifact although: Local waitress Penny Jo (Sweeney) overhears Roy Lee making a deal to promote the ghost shirt for a half-million {dollars} on the diner the place she works and figures it might fund her goals of country-singer stardom. Struggling by means of her persistent stammer, she recruits lovelorn restaurant common Lefty Ledbetter (Hauser) to assist her separate Mandy from the shirt.

Calvin, in the meantime, meets up with some precise Native Americans, and as soon as he tells them in regards to the theft of the Lakota shirt, Ghost Eye (Zahn McClarnon) and Hank Spears (Derek Hinkey) got down to get well their tribal heritage, taking Calvin alongside for insurance coverage ought to his mom want any persuading. With Mandy on the run, heading again to her father’s Wyoming ranch, and Roy Lee in shut pursuit, all events are set to converge in a bloody battle royal for possession of the shirt.

Shooting New Mexico for South Dakota, Tost incorporates the wide-open areas, cultural conflicts and endemic lawlessness typical to Westerns, whereas inverting typical expectations by foregrounding Native American views on among the movie’s thornier social points. At the identical time, the frequent shootouts, uncommon weapon selections (compound bows and game-hunting arrows) and excessive physique counts suggest an amusingly ironic subversion of the style.

With her hair styled in an extended raven mullet, Halsey’s Mandy embodies the kind of emotionally scarred however unfailingly tenacious ladies broadly celebrated in nation music, as she strives to flee a lifetime of abusive relationships, present for her youngster and make one thing respectable out of her life. Penny Jo, performed by Sweeney with touching vulnerability and pluck, faces comparable challenges herself, as her speech incapacity persistently interferes together with her private relationships, solely abating when she’s singing her favourite Dolly Parton songs. Hauser shows a equally attuned sensitivity to Lefty’s romantic ineptitude and craving to attach, as he commits to going all-in to help Penny Jo’s aspirations for a Nashville music profession.

While Americana doesn’t notably reinvent the Western, Tost’s portrayal of characters pushed by unfettered greed or justifiable want offers voice to often-ignored segments of society as they attempt for company and respect — an admirable high quality in any narrative style.

Full credit

Venue: SXSW Film Festival (Narrative Spotlight)
Production corporations: Bron Studios, Saks Picture Company
Cast: Sydney Sweeney, Paul Walter Hauser, Halsey, Eric Dane, Zahn McClarnon, Gavin Maddox Bergman, Simon Rex, Derek Hinkey, Toby Huss, Harriet Sansom Harris
Director-screenwriter: Tony Tost
Producer: Alex Saks
Executive producers: Aaron L. Gilbert, Steven Thibault, Alison-Jane Roney, Jason Cloth, Paris Kassidokostas-Latsis, Terry Dougas, Jean-Luc De Fanti, Michael Williams, Suraj Maraboyina
Director of images: Nigel Bluck
Production designer:  Russell Barnes
Costume designer: Jillian Bundrick 
Editor: Peter McNulty
Composer: David Fleming
Casting: Angelique Midthunder
Sales: WME Independent

1 hour 50 minutes



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Most Popular